Most expensive spice in the world! Saffron is taken from a beautiful purple flower named Crocus Sativus.
Which is why it’s always been treated as a delicacy: a fabric dye for royalty, a perfume compound for the wealthy, an ingredient reserved for special meals that immediately signify luxury.
To understand why, consider what saffron actually is and where it comes from. Saffron comes from the saffron crocus flower. And each flower has three red stigmas — that’s the saffron, a tricky-to-grow plant that demands careful human cultivation.
The crocus only fully blooms for a few hours a day, and each flower yields just three tiny saffron threads. Ultimately, you’ll need to hand-pick 170,000 flowers to create just one pound of saffron. The purple flowers only bloom over a 6-week period from late September to early December. There’s also a specific time of day to harvest them.
When we have a higher relative humidity in the air, it can affect the saffron quality. Also, sunlight can break the chemical structure in the saffron. So, we prefer to harvest the saffron early morning every day.
You have to hire a lot of laborers to harvest 4 pounds of saffron per acre—laborious work that requires skilled labor to do right.
No machine can do the delicate work required to harvest these thin threads. And it can take 40 hours of hard manual labor to produce just 1 kilogram of high-quality saffron. Growing the plants isn’t exactly easy either.
Quality is a key when growing such a precise crop. And the taste of the saffron depends on the rainfall, temperature, and soil
Iran, where over 90% of the world’s saffron is produced, offers the best weather and soil conditions for the growth and prosperity of the saffron flower. This is reflected in the quality, which is why Iranian saffron is known for its world’s best saffron quality, from which various types of saffron are extracted.
So it’s no surprise that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.